SHINE!

There’s no place like home, even underwater, though the eventual happiness here seems more dictated than organic.

A sea creature yearns to live in the sky.

Hoshi is a red starfish with little black eyes and white circles on her cheeks. Every night on the beach, she gazes longingly upward, believing that only as a celestial star can she “shine.” As the sun rises and the tide pulls her back into the water, the text is amusingly explicit about what Hoshi’s environment isn’t actually missing: “ ‘I should be floating among the colorful planets,’ Hoshi [thinks], as she float[s] among the colorful coral”; “ ‘Up there, there are exciting and endless possibilities,’ she explain[s] to the exciting, endless schools of minnows.” McDonnell’s two-part message—that Hoshi’s environment has everything she longs for, and that she can “shine” and be happy simply by deciding to, as an anglerfish explains—is hardly original, and Hoshi’s self-pity (“poor little me…a star stuck in the sea”) feels overdone at her expense. However, the artwork—acrylic, pencil, pastel, and ink on plywood—has some lovely aspects. The stars in the sky seem truly luminescent; the “exciting, endless” school of yellow minnows glides alluringly through green water; and, most inventively, Stoop uses the natural wood grain of her plywood base as beach, undersea sand patterns, and ocean currents.

There’s no place like home, even underwater, though the eventual happiness here seems more dictated than organic. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-26278-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S HALLOWEEN

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

HAPPY EASTER, LITTLE POOKIE

From the Little Pookie series

An upbeat Easter outing with a beloved character.

Pookie celebrates Easter with a play date and holiday activities.

Pookie’s friend Bean, a gray puppy, comes over for Easter fun that includes lots of bouncing around and egg decorating. After Bean goes home, Pookie gets excited about the Easter Bunny’s arrival and goes to sleep dreaming of a large chocolate egg. Like the other Pookie books before it, this one is told in rhyme from the perspective of a loving grown-up addressing the little pig, which keeps the pace moving and makes for a great read-aloud. Bean and Pookie are realistically—and endearingly—childlike, from Pookie’s pronunciation of yellow as “lellow!” to the joyful mess they make while decorating eggs. There are plenty of sweet and festive touches, such as the bunny ears that Bean and Pookie (and Pookie’s teddy) wear and the daffodils painted on the end of Pookie’s bed. The illustrations include large, full-page images as well as smaller vignettes against solid backgrounds. One page shows Pookie and parent looking out the window at the moon, anticipating Easter’s spoils. For fans of Boynton and little Pookie, this Easter tale is exactly as expected: a touch of playfulness, a relatable story, and comfort in the familiar. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An upbeat Easter outing with a beloved character. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-66592-838-0

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Boynton Bookworks

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2022

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